Take me to your leader

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Okay, it's no secret that I love my pets. In fact, I can understand the attraction of most furry critters that - for whatever reason - humans choose as companions.

But when I recently read a news item that reported that owning a cat (a species that obviously has a great PR rep) is good for your health, I had to chuckle. The premise, you see, was that the simple act of petting a feline has a calming effect that actually helps lower your blood pressure.

Well sure, of course it does, I agreed. It's the other 23.5 hours of the day that bring it back up again. Allow me to illustrate, using my own humble household as an example.

Chez Jefferies, the animal population is a geriatric menagerie that includes three cats ranging in age from about 12 to 15 years old. I say "from about" because Stanley (aka Mr. Evil) came from a questionable background, and our best guess is that he was about a year old (and just tossed out of his second or third home) when he landed with us. Rounding out our zoo - er, home - is Buster, a robust beagle now securely entrenched in his middle years (he's eight).

Anyways, back when we were young and foolish as only new pet owners are, Dan and I mistakenly believed that our pets would conform to our lifestyle, adapting our habits and patterns if not through training, then by osmosis. Or something. To make a long story short, that didn't happen. And if you're thinking of getting a pet, it won't happen for you, either. Trust me.

I look at the way our household runs on a daily basis, and there simply isn't any aspect of our lives that remains unaffected by our pets.

Take, for instance, feeding time (theirs, not ours). Buster must be outside before we break out the cat kibble, as he isn't terribly discriminating when it comes to food. Then a complicated dance around the kitchen begins, with three bowls scattered far enough apart so one cat isn't tempted to stray to another's meal. But wait, our middle cat, Lucky, is a finicky eater with just a few teeth (long story). So she gets special, juicy food that the other cats with strong, healthy chompers covet. So she must be segregated - and sometimes guarded - as she daintily picks her way through her dinner.

After breakfast, KC, our eldest cat, must have half a pill to help her kidneys work properly. She takes this very easily now, but once that's over with, the meowing begins. And we run around the house trying to figure out what transgression has been committed in order to get her to stop.

Sometimes, the water dish is empty. Not that she's thirsty, mind you, but it's supposed to be full. Other times, the door to the porch where the litter box is kept is closed. Not that she has to use it, but it really should be open. Or she might want a lift up to the closet, her preferred sleeping spot. Or on top of the fridge, depending on the day.

My daily wardrobe choices often depend on how quickly I can get out of the door without coming into contact with a shedding animal. If I'm wearing black, I'm feeling fairly optimistic, and fast on my feet (just ignore those tufts of white on my back, please). If I'm in grey or beige, it's possible I'm feeling a little slow, less confident of my pet fur avoidance abilities. At least the hair doesn't show - as much.

Our animals even control our bedtime routine. In fact, they used to control our waking routine - crying at the door earlier and earlier each day until we got up - until we finally outsmarted them (it only took about 12 years). So every night, the cats are lured with a treat to the back hall, where they're rounded up and the door is closed for maximum peace and quiet through the night.

Compared to the cats, Buster is easy. Give him a treat when he comes in the door, let him have his end of the couch, and try to overlook his breath when he wants to give you a kiss.

But of course, there are those Kodak moments, like when you look down in your lap to find a tightly rolled ball of fur gently purring approval. Or come home to a wagging tail and the unconditional love only your pet can give.

And you can actually feel the blood pressure coming down. For a half-hour or so.

Take me to your leader

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Okay, it's no secret that I love my pets. In fact, I can understand the attraction of most furry critters that - for whatever reason - humans choose as companions.

But when I recently read a news item that reported that owning a cat (a species that obviously has a great PR rep) is good for your health, I had to chuckle. The premise, you see, was that the simple act of petting a feline has a calming effect that actually helps lower your blood pressure.

Well sure, of course it does, I agreed. It's the other 23.5 hours of the day that bring it back up again. Allow me to illustrate, using my own humble household as an example.

Chez Jefferies, the animal population is a geriatric menagerie that includes three cats ranging in age from about 12 to 15 years old. I say "from about" because Stanley (aka Mr. Evil) came from a questionable background, and our best guess is that he was about a year old (and just tossed out of his second or third home) when he landed with us. Rounding out our zoo - er, home - is Buster, a robust beagle now securely entrenched in his middle years (he's eight).

Anyways, back when we were young and foolish as only new pet owners are, Dan and I mistakenly believed that our pets would conform to our lifestyle, adapting our habits and patterns if not through training, then by osmosis. Or something. To make a long story short, that didn't happen. And if you're thinking of getting a pet, it won't happen for you, either. Trust me.

I look at the way our household runs on a daily basis, and there simply isn't any aspect of our lives that remains unaffected by our pets.

Take, for instance, feeding time (theirs, not ours). Buster must be outside before we break out the cat kibble, as he isn't terribly discriminating when it comes to food. Then a complicated dance around the kitchen begins, with three bowls scattered far enough apart so one cat isn't tempted to stray to another's meal. But wait, our middle cat, Lucky, is a finicky eater with just a few teeth (long story). So she gets special, juicy food that the other cats with strong, healthy chompers covet. So she must be segregated - and sometimes guarded - as she daintily picks her way through her dinner.

After breakfast, KC, our eldest cat, must have half a pill to help her kidneys work properly. She takes this very easily now, but once that's over with, the meowing begins. And we run around the house trying to figure out what transgression has been committed in order to get her to stop.

Sometimes, the water dish is empty. Not that she's thirsty, mind you, but it's supposed to be full. Other times, the door to the porch where the litter box is kept is closed. Not that she has to use it, but it really should be open. Or she might want a lift up to the closet, her preferred sleeping spot. Or on top of the fridge, depending on the day.

My daily wardrobe choices often depend on how quickly I can get out of the door without coming into contact with a shedding animal. If I'm wearing black, I'm feeling fairly optimistic, and fast on my feet (just ignore those tufts of white on my back, please). If I'm in grey or beige, it's possible I'm feeling a little slow, less confident of my pet fur avoidance abilities. At least the hair doesn't show - as much.

Our animals even control our bedtime routine. In fact, they used to control our waking routine - crying at the door earlier and earlier each day until we got up - until we finally outsmarted them (it only took about 12 years). So every night, the cats are lured with a treat to the back hall, where they're rounded up and the door is closed for maximum peace and quiet through the night.

Compared to the cats, Buster is easy. Give him a treat when he comes in the door, let him have his end of the couch, and try to overlook his breath when he wants to give you a kiss.

But of course, there are those Kodak moments, like when you look down in your lap to find a tightly rolled ball of fur gently purring approval. Or come home to a wagging tail and the unconditional love only your pet can give.

And you can actually feel the blood pressure coming down. For a half-hour or so.

Take me to your leader

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Okay, it's no secret that I love my pets. In fact, I can understand the attraction of most furry critters that - for whatever reason - humans choose as companions.

But when I recently read a news item that reported that owning a cat (a species that obviously has a great PR rep) is good for your health, I had to chuckle. The premise, you see, was that the simple act of petting a feline has a calming effect that actually helps lower your blood pressure.

Well sure, of course it does, I agreed. It's the other 23.5 hours of the day that bring it back up again. Allow me to illustrate, using my own humble household as an example.

Chez Jefferies, the animal population is a geriatric menagerie that includes three cats ranging in age from about 12 to 15 years old. I say "from about" because Stanley (aka Mr. Evil) came from a questionable background, and our best guess is that he was about a year old (and just tossed out of his second or third home) when he landed with us. Rounding out our zoo - er, home - is Buster, a robust beagle now securely entrenched in his middle years (he's eight).

Anyways, back when we were young and foolish as only new pet owners are, Dan and I mistakenly believed that our pets would conform to our lifestyle, adapting our habits and patterns if not through training, then by osmosis. Or something. To make a long story short, that didn't happen. And if you're thinking of getting a pet, it won't happen for you, either. Trust me.

I look at the way our household runs on a daily basis, and there simply isn't any aspect of our lives that remains unaffected by our pets.

Take, for instance, feeding time (theirs, not ours). Buster must be outside before we break out the cat kibble, as he isn't terribly discriminating when it comes to food. Then a complicated dance around the kitchen begins, with three bowls scattered far enough apart so one cat isn't tempted to stray to another's meal. But wait, our middle cat, Lucky, is a finicky eater with just a few teeth (long story). So she gets special, juicy food that the other cats with strong, healthy chompers covet. So she must be segregated - and sometimes guarded - as she daintily picks her way through her dinner.

After breakfast, KC, our eldest cat, must have half a pill to help her kidneys work properly. She takes this very easily now, but once that's over with, the meowing begins. And we run around the house trying to figure out what transgression has been committed in order to get her to stop.

Sometimes, the water dish is empty. Not that she's thirsty, mind you, but it's supposed to be full. Other times, the door to the porch where the litter box is kept is closed. Not that she has to use it, but it really should be open. Or she might want a lift up to the closet, her preferred sleeping spot. Or on top of the fridge, depending on the day.

My daily wardrobe choices often depend on how quickly I can get out of the door without coming into contact with a shedding animal. If I'm wearing black, I'm feeling fairly optimistic, and fast on my feet (just ignore those tufts of white on my back, please). If I'm in grey or beige, it's possible I'm feeling a little slow, less confident of my pet fur avoidance abilities. At least the hair doesn't show - as much.

Our animals even control our bedtime routine. In fact, they used to control our waking routine - crying at the door earlier and earlier each day until we got up - until we finally outsmarted them (it only took about 12 years). So every night, the cats are lured with a treat to the back hall, where they're rounded up and the door is closed for maximum peace and quiet through the night.

Compared to the cats, Buster is easy. Give him a treat when he comes in the door, let him have his end of the couch, and try to overlook his breath when he wants to give you a kiss.

But of course, there are those Kodak moments, like when you look down in your lap to find a tightly rolled ball of fur gently purring approval. Or come home to a wagging tail and the unconditional love only your pet can give.

And you can actually feel the blood pressure coming down. For a half-hour or so.